Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 02.12.2018

Review for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection on PlayStation 4

It took its sweet time coming, but now that Persona 5 is here, the spin-offs were inevitable. Persona 4, popular as it is, got quite the special treatment in recent years, with various fighting games, dungeon crawlers, and rhythm games prolonging the cast's lives, even if it felt like milking it with later titles. Persona 3, overshadowed by its sequel, did end up having its share of the pie, though, with characters playing large roles in a number of the aforementioned games. P4 is still the only one of the "big three" to have dabbled in the rhythm genre...until now. This mighty package of three games brings Persona 3, 4 and 5 to the PlayStation 4 stage in Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection.

Each title presented here is effectively the same type of game, yet all have had different levels of care put into them. Getting it out of the way first, obtainable only in this triple pack is a port of the PS Vita's Persona 4: Dancing All Night. With that in mind, it evidently looks like a handheld game, sharpened up a bit for the big screen, with very little else done to it. The absurd story mode is still there, plus the usual in-game shop to purchase outfits and accessories for the characters. The gameplay remains the same - problems and all - and this is the framework the other two games utilise for their own rhythm antics.

Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight make up the rest of this $99.99 package. The biggest difference between these newer games and P4D is the omission of a story mode. This may come as a big concern for people that enjoyed the drawn-out plot of the previous title, but that viewpoint isn't echoed here. Persona spin-off plots were already getting more and more padded and sleep-inducing, and the milking of P4 especially clearly took its toll on the writers. Frankly, P3D and P5D are all the better for being devoid of yet another tedious story mode.

Screenshot for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection on PlayStation 4

There is, however, a minor plot going on in the background of each game, as an excuse to reunite the SEES and Phantom Thieves groups again. Although the two teams do not cross paths in either game, both have been summoned to a club variant of the Velvet Room, the familiar location from Persona games, and are tasked with dancing to their hearts' content. Naturally, this is all taking place in the dream world, so none of the members will remember what goes on when they wake up.

The simple reason for each team being called is due to Margaret and Lavenza (Igor's assistants from P3 and P5 respectively) competing to see which of their subjects can complete a certain task the quickest...by means of dancing. Of course, neither pair in either title lets on exactly what their game is, and it is only through viewing social events by meeting requirements in-game that the underlying plot reveals itself. It's shoehorned in, but it's fine as a means to bring everyone together again for some silly fun. Besides, rhythm games don't need good reasons to exist as long as the music is great...which it always has been in Persona.

Screenshot for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection on PlayStation 4

Now, without that story as a core selling point, all eyes are on the songs included. That's where things are a little mixed. P3 verges more on the dance, pop and rock side, whereas P5 incorporates a nice chunk of jazz into its remixes. While some tracks are pulled right from the relevant games, there are plenty of arrangements that can be unlocked with each bunch of songs completed. It will come down to personal taste in the end, but there is a lingering feeling that some remixes are lacking in appeal, not always hooking the player in for a good time. On the other side, though, there are definitely some standouts that will get replayed over and over.

The other problem is what is quite a limited selection of tracks as far as rhythm games go. The ideal scenario in the future would be to combine all of these games into one title for a real meaty track list. Perhaps this complaint is moot if you buy the Endless Night Collection, though, since you are getting all three games here...just as separate titles. Taken individually, there aren't enough tracks per game...but if you don't mind switching between each game when you want to play a song from another, well, there is a strong line-up to keep you busy when you ignore the ho-hum tracks.

Screenshot for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection on PlayStation 4

Using the exact same interface and gameplay as in P4D, though, both P3D and P5D suffer from the same issues. Notes fly out from the middle of the screen and towards the corresponding buttons on the outer edges. This was already a problem on the smaller PS Vita screen, but it seems to be a recurring concern, as, certainly on higher difficulties and faster speeds, the notes are pretty much all over the place, making it tough to get a read on where the next one is heading towards. By the time you've scanned the screen as quick as you can, the next note is already hitting its target. Your eyes have to be super sharp, moving around the screen eagerly in anticipation of where the next ones are flying to. Is it impossible to get a read on? No, and some tracks are easier to manage than others, but the only real way to conquer many is by sheer memorisation and replaying of stages.

It just isn't a particularly well-designed rhythm interface or system, and it's a shame not much was really altered from P4D. Some notes are clearer in the new titles, such as the rings that expand outwards and must be hit with a flick of one of the sticks (although this can be mapped to a shoulder button, thankfully - stick flicks in rhythm games suck), but the same design remains in the P4D port, bizarrely, making it tough to get a focus on those notes once again in that game. Getting into the groove once you do have certain songs down feels great, it must be said, and the way notes match up with the rhythm of the music is well done, really giving the sense of contributing to the current song. It's just a shame the system design may prevent some from ever mastering it.

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As far as visuals are concerned, this is also a very inconsistent area between all three games...although not necessarily a massive problem. P4D is a sharper looking PS Vita port (as expected), whereas P3D has had entirely brand-new models crafted for its characters - and they look fantastic. The animations in particular really go an extra mile, matching up with the dialogue being spoken in social events to give a proper sense of realism and adding charm to their personalities. It sort of gets the heart pining for a full remake of Persona 3... They look that good. P5D's characters, meanwhile, are straight rips of their models from Persona 5. This isn't too bad, but they don't come close to the quality of P3D, and stand out as a result, especially when switching from one game to the other. In the end, all three games have had different levels of care put into them on the visuals front, with P3D the runaway winner.

While the in-game shop to buy gear returns in the P4D port, this is thankfully gone in the other two titles. Now, accessories and songs are simply unlocked through playing - and they are all the better for it, since little grinding is required. Some of the costumes are pretty sweet, coming straight from the respective original titles, whilst all-new ones are here to add that disco edge, too. For those that struggle with the rhythm game itself, there are some excellent helper options to slow things down, keep the music flowing if performing poorly, or keep combos going if missing notes, whilst purists can handicap themselves with just as many choices. Choosing handicaps adds bonus points, whilst the reverse is true for anyone choosing to employ help.

The social events are nice if only to provide close-ups of the characters that never really got that sort of attention in the RPGs they come from, and deliver a few humorous moments among what are generally just the expected chats and ramblings of each dancer talking to the main character. Don't expect any great storytelling here; just some re-emphasising of personalities that are already known to those that played the original games. Some amusing dialogue at times, though, all the same.

Screenshot for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

At $99.99, this is a hefty sum for the only way to get Persona 4 Dancing on PS4, but considering the entire package as a whole, the three rhythm games do provide a good deal of content...even if the entire track selection and remixes aren't top tier. There is some good stuff here if you can deal with the poorly-designed gameplay interface, but only the most enthusiastic of Persona fans will want to fork out for this collection.

Developer

Atlus

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Rhythm

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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